Texas Man Indicted for Selling Counterfeit Medicines Online

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The Brownsville Herald reported that a local man, Rene Soriano, pleaded not guilty in federal court to the eight count indictment against him. The U.S. Department of Justice accuses Soriano of using Facebook and Craigslist to sell counterfeit pharmaceuticals purchased from suppliers in India and Singapore over the course of five years. According to the indictment, the charges against Soriano include trafficking or attempting to traffic in counterfeit goods, introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate traffic, distributing prescription drugs without a license, and fraudulently importing and selling misbranded drugs. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) testing showed the pills to be counterfeit with some having active ingredients not approved for sale in the U.S.

A criminal complaint filed with the court states that the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) notified Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in November 2017 about suspicious packages being sent to Soriano at multiple residences in town. A database run by HSI showed that the sender, Chinmay Overseas, had numerous packages marked as “Medicine” on Custom Declaration forms seized during 2017. Chinmay Overseas is an Indian company that sells non FDA-approved drugs. Independent investigative journalist Brian Krebs found evidence that Chinmay Overseas also provided pills to the SpamIt affiliate pharmacies. For years, SpamIt paid some of the world’s top spammers to promote their counterfeit pharmacy websites. One of their best-known programs was the generic “Canadian Pharmacy” websites that portrayed themselves to be Canadian companies, but sold drugs not approved by Health Canada for sale in that country.

In December 2017, Soriano received notices from Customs and Border Protection informing him that packages of pills sent to him had been seized because they were illegal. The notices did not stop Soriano, and in January 2018, he posted to Facebook that he had Acxion 30mg tablets. In previous online postings on Facebook and elsewhere, he said he had “Generic viagra and Super PForce for sale both 100mg,” “Generic Viagra and Cialis,” and Soriano served as the administrator for a Facebook page called “Viagra Generic Sildenafil Citrate” on which he offered to ship people pills or personally deliver them if they were in the Brownsville, Texas-area.

An undercover agent from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations contact Soriano in February 2018 asking to purchase some pills. Multiple types of pills were received, and testing showed the medicines to be counterfeit, and some included Dapoxetine, which is not approved for sale in the U.S. The Brownsville Herald reported that Soriano is due back in court in August.